Definition of a Caregiver Affidavit
A caregiver affidavit is a legal document that allows a person (other than one’s next-of-kin or power of attorney) to have the authority to act as a substitute decision maker for matters of health care for someone who is unable to do so. A person might have a medical condition that prevents them from being able to make sound decisions on a consistent basis, or suffer an accident that leaves them incapable of indicating treatment choices for themselves.
A caregiver affidavit differs from a power of attorney in that a power of attorney gives someone legal authority to make medical, property, and financial decisions, whereas a caregiver affidavit only allows for decisions related to health and personal care to be made by a care provider. A power of attorney is also typically a relative or close friend, whereas a caregiver affidavit generally relates to those who provide caregiving services such as companion care providers, physical therapists, and nursing home administrators. Power of attorney is almost always one specific person, and is difficult to change; one person can have multiple caregiver affidavits at any time, and they are usually temporary as a person’s care needs evolve.
The goal of a caregiver affidavit is to always ensure that there is someone immediately available who is authorized to make appropriate decisions regarding the health care of a senior who is unable to do so themselves.
How Caregiver Affidavits Work
Caregiver affidavits are bound by various laws depending on the state in which they are issued, so always consult a professional to ensure that your document follows all applicable local rules and regulations.
Most forms include sections for the caregiver’s information as well as the person they will be caring for and whoever holds that person’s power of attorney or substitute decision-making powers. The document should clearly explain the relationship of all parties, as well as the caregiver’s role and responsibility in contacting the primary decision-maker before executing their power to make care decisions. You can find sample documents online or visit an elder care lawyer for assistance.
Some long-term care facilities and/or nursing homes may even require a caregiver affidavit be on file within a set time of admission, so be sure to ask if this is applicable to your situation.
Benefits of a Caregiver Affidavit
The benefits of a caregiver affidavit include providing for timely and appropriate medical care for your loved one when you are unable to be immediately reached.
If your loved one has a live-in caregiver or resides in any sort of nursing home or assisted living facility, it makes sense to provide legal authority to make decisions for your loved one on your behalf, should the need ever arise.
Having a substitute person named in a caregiver affidavit to make these decisions when the person is unable to do so, or when next-of-kin are unavailable can be an invaluable asset in providing peace of mind.
In the event that a substitute decision-maker has not been named, decisions regarding your loved one’s care may fall to a government-appointed administrator, who may not know or follow your loved one’s wishes.
Cost of Caregiver Affidavit
The cost of a caregiver affidavit will vary depending on the jurisdiction, but since a notary public is required to witness and authenticate the document there will usually be a small cost associated with making the document official. This nominal fee can be well worth it to have peace of mind that your loved one’s wishes and best interests are honored in the event they are unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves.
Most banks provide notary services to their clients at no charge, so it may be worth looking into that cost-saving option. You can also have your documents notarized at most UPS stores for a nominal fee. There are maximum allowable fees in most states, most under $20 per page and per signature. Online notary services run around $25 per document. You’ll need copies of all relevant information and documents pertaining to your loved one’s caregiver, your power of attorney, as well as valid photo identification.
If you require the services of a lawyer to create your caregiver affidavit, that cost will also vary widely. It might be worth contacting local law schools to see if a student lawyer can assist you if finances are an issue. You can search elder care lawyers by state here.
Some caregiver affidavits expire after a set period, so always ensure that your documentation is up to date and be sure to follow your local laws and regulations regarding caregiver affidavits.
Does Your Loved One Need a Caregiver Affidavit?
Like other aspects of long-term care planning, ensuring you or your loved one have talked about or set up caregiver affidavits ahead of time is a smart idea. You don’t want to be scrambling to sort out legal and administrative tasks if an emergency should arise. This also allows you or your loved one to clearly communicate your wishes ahead of time.
Caregiver affidavits should ideally be signed by the person who they’ll affect, and as such should be done so when they are still of sound mind, but this is not always possible. However, they can be put in place by whoever holds power of attorney in the event a person is no longer able to legally consent to such matters.